14 Mar Brought Near to God
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteousness, that he might bring us to God.” -1 Peter 3:18
The God who fashioned our hearts and knit us together did so not only with meticulous care for detail, but according to a glorious pattern. He made us for himself. This means that we are most ourselves when we are in relationship with God. Our fullest joy is found as we are in his presence, basking in his glory and walking in loving obedience to him.
But just as Adam was banished from the garden after he sinned – the garden where he had walked with his Creator – our sin broke the intimacy we were meant to have with God. This is the intimacy and joy we were designed for, and it is found only in the God who fully knows us. It is only in the garden of his love that our hearts will be fully satisfied, yet because of the curse of sin, this intimacy was beyond our reach. We were separated from him.
God put forward a picture of this separation. He had his people build a temple, and in it was the Holy of Holies, the place where the glory and presence of God dwelled. Before this most holy place was a thick veil, a curtain of separation. No human could go beyond the veil without dying, except the high priest, and even the high priest could only go in once a year – on a day when he made atonement for himself and for the people. No sinful person could stand to be in the presence of God’s astounding holiness and live. And so, longing for his people to return to him and be with him, to have the intimacy he made them for, God sent Jesus.
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were all purposed to bring us back into the relationship with God we were created for – and, like before, God gave us a picture of it. After Jesus breathed his last at his crucifixion, something shocking happened. The veil in the temple in Jerusalem, four inches thick and the visible symbol of our separation from God, was torn in two from top to bottom. The message was clear: through Jesus, we can draw near to the holiest place and be in the presence of God. We simply repent of our sins, call upon his name and place all of our trust in Jesus’ righteousness and sacrifice for our salvation.
This torn veil shows us that salvation does not just entail forgiveness of a sinful record and hope of eternal life after death; through faith in Jesus, we are raised to radical newness of life and we have reconciliation with God right now. We have been raised with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places. We belong to him. We are his treasured, beloved possession. Though we, like sheep, have gone astray, we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. We are not just criminals who have been absolved by the Judge, but orphans who have been adopted by God the Father. We have access to him. We are called children of God.
O how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which Thou to me hast showed?
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God.
Readings for this week:
Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:12
1 Peter 2:9-10
1 John 3:1-3, 5:11
This post is fifth in a series celebrating Lent, for the purpose of preparing our hearts to treasure Christ more as Easter approaches. Each post in the series is coupled with art from local artist Kathryn Schermbeck. Our hope is that these words, reading guides, and pieces of art would lead you to worship as you remember the radical and costly grace of God.